If you have been named as the personal representative of an estate in someone’s will, you might rightly feel honored, but you should also be prepared for a major responsibility — one that can seem thankless and overwhelming at times.
Personal estate representatives, as they are called in Maryland — although many people would probably refer to them “executors” — are often tasked with a variety of complex administrative duties in areas where they likely have little to no prior experience, such as wealth management and asset distribution. If you want to perform these duties by yourself, then you’ll need to learn on the job in short order, often while you are still dealing with the loss of a family member or close friend.
In addition, very few people realize when they accept a role as a personal representative that they can be held liable for mistakes they make while managing and distributing the deceased person’s wealth.
Why Hire an Estate Attorney?
Unless you have significant experience in the final administration of an estate, you should strongly consider hiring an estate administration attorney if you’re appointed as a personal estate representative. An attorney will know the relevant estate laws and procedures for your jurisdiction and can use their experience to go over every detail of the estate and related duties, preventing you from making administrative mistakes that could expose you to liability.
Even the simplest estates in Maryland still have to go through probate in the Orphans’ Court and Register of Wills, which can be a complicated process no matter how straightforward a person’s will and wishes for their estate might seem.
Choosing an Estate Administration Attorney
You may want to consider the following tips when selecting an estate attorney:
Choose a local attorney. It’s usually best to select an attorney from the state or even the region where the deceased person lived. Estate laws differ from state to state, so an attorney who is already familiar with the laws that apply to the estate in question is an excellent choice.
Select an attorney with estate administration (probate) experience. An attorney with a generalized practice who has a bit of probate court experience may be able to represent you adequately in settling a very simple estate, but more complicated wills that includes litigation or a wide range of assets require more experience.
Don’t be afraid to consider professionalism and personality. As the personal representative for the estate, you’ll have to work with your estate attorney closely for some time. Make sure to select someone you feel comfortable working with and talking to on a regular basis — both from a personal and professional standpoint. Don’t be afraid to ask the attorney plenty of questions about themselves, their professional history, and their experience in estate administration.
At Pinder Plotkin, we pride ourselves on representing local clients in the Parkville-Baltimore area that we call home, and we have the experience with Maryland estate law to meet your estate administration needs. As a small firm of two attorneys with a capable support staff, we strive to provide a personal touch while delivering the type of professionalism and proficiency that you might expect from a much larger firm.
Contact Pinder Plotkin for Estate Administration Services
If you have been named as the personal representative of an estate and you’re seeking legal counsel, please contact our Parkville offices today at (410) 661-9440 or complete this form to learn how we can help you manage your loved one’s estate and protect yourself from liability. Our attorneys have years of experience in all areas of estate administration, including wealth management, asset distribution, and probate proceedings.
The information provided in this website/blog is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.